Training New Employees Effectively: All You Need to Know to Start

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Training New Employees Effectively: All You Need to Know to Start

Training new employees is critical to new hires succeeding in their role. The one thing new hires and their hiring managers have in common is their excitement to get the job done. However, setting up your new employees for success means properly training them. So how do you go about training new employees? And how do you prepare a new hire training plan? Let’s find out.

Onboarding vs. new hire training
What’s the purpose of training new employees?
Partnering with HR & Learning & Development
Key components of new hire training
How to train new employees effectively?

Onboarding vs. new hire training

While employee onboarding and new hire training both start at the beginning of an employee’s journey at an organization and continue throughout the first weeks and months of employment, they are two separate processes.

Onboarding begins as soon as the employee accepts the offer. This includes all the administrative and compliance components – references, background checks, drug testing, I-9s, and introduction to the organization, its values, and company culture. Onboarding is often a marketing opportunity to confirm to the new hires they made the right choice in joining the organization. It highlights some of the reasons why the new hires found the organization attractive.

In contrast, new hire training focuses on teaching the employees how to complete tasks and how to operate equipment and software. In other words, it trains employees on how to actually do the job. Training can be considered a part of employee onboarding.

Such training requires more targeted planning and strong organizational skills to create a structured framework and a platform from which new hires can launch to be productive employees. To a great extent, training must be customized to the role and the employee. Understanding the nature of the role, understanding the employee’s current state (reflective of past experiences, habits, and knowledge), communicating their future state (where they need to be in the next 3 to 12 months), and the significant milestones along the way.

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None of the above can happen without planning and conversations. Managers must be invested enough in the new hires’ success to plan their training ahead to equip them to succeed.

What’s the purpose of training new employees?

The primary purpose for training new employees is to ensure they succeed and the organization gets a return on their investment for hiring them. Training prepares them to do their job. You also want to help them work more effectively as soon as possible. This is what your new employees want too. 76% of new hires consider on-the-job training the most important activity in their first week.

What’s more, training helps them become productive faster, and they’re more likely to stay with you. In fact, 40% of employees who receive poor job training leave the organization within the first year. That means that investing in training new employees will also help you prevent new hire turnover and increase employee retention.

Additionally, a high-quality new employee training program has a positive impact on employee engagement. Research shows that employees who feel sufficiently trained are 27% more engaged than those who don’t.

Partnering with HR & Learning & Development

An effective new hire training program that is targeted to the employee and the role requires a collaborative effort between the hiring manager, HR, and L&D. New hires want to understand their future learning and career paths in the organization. They want to know how employees progress across and advance in the organization. They want to avoid pitfalls and organizational landmines. Working along with HR and L&D, the hiring manager can help prevent new hires from making significant missteps.

The role of HR and L&D is to understand the learning paths associated with the role, the job family, and the business unit. They should also consider how the role and job family intersect with other job families to develop the appropriate learning path for the employee.

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On one hand, there is generic corporate training that may need tweaking annually. On the other hand, there is also targeted training for new employees that may need revisions as new employees join and roles emerge and as the organization changes its objectives. Therefore, HR and L&D need to be aware of and sensitive to the direction of the organization, the impact any changes are having on the business unit, and how those changes filter into the role of the employee.

The learning path designed for the new hire should not just prepare them for the next six months but also for the following year.

41% of HR professionals believe that on-the-job training is the most important aspect of onboarding to update and improve. Making the new hire training a collaborative effort will help you create a training program that truly sets up new employees for success.

Key components of new hire training

Through a targeted approach, managers are able to better understand how wide the potential skills gaps are and what it will take to bridge them.  During the training period, the employee should gain a more in-depth understanding of the job responsibilities, the core competencies, key metrics and KPIs, departmental and individual goals, and ultimately what success looks like for the role. Ensure to make a direct link between new hires’ goals and departmental goals.

Job expectations

Managers should take the time to distill the essential functions of the job by explaining what needs to be done, how it should be done (cultural norms and managerial preferences), when it needs to be done (key milestones and deadlines) and why the role is important to the department and organizational strategy.

Discuss the levels of supervision and chain of command above and below the employee’s position and their manager. Provide them with an organizational chart that’ll help them understand how they fit into the larger organization. They will also see where their internal stakeholders are located on the chart.

Departmental goals & objectives

The manager should easily explain and provide documentation of the department’s goals, objectives, and how it supports the wider organizational strategic focus. This is helpful to the new hire to understand how they and their role contributes to department and organizational success. This creates a sense of ownership, purpose, and belonging in new hires.

Processes & workflows

New employees also need to understand how the work is done – the processes and workflows. Therefore, training on how a new product is brought to market, how to process an insurance claim or how to approve time-off in the time management system is critical to new employees succeeding in their roles.  They need dedicated training on these processes and workflows, as well as opportunities to practice before doing the work independently.

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Ideally, the employee should have access to the employee handbook. Obviously, however, there is only so much the employee can absorb at one time. To help the new hire focus, the hiring manager should highlight the key policies. These include the code of conduct, time management, and any other policies that impact the role. 

Technology & systems

Some organizations use Mac, and some use PC. The new hire may come with proficiency in and preference for one over the other. Therefore, the employee might require training and will need to engage in unlearning some behaviors and habits to be proficient.

Most organizations use several systems to operate efficiently. It is essential to introduce the new hire to the systems that are most pertinent to their department and role and train them how to use them. For example, the electronic and paper filing systems, time management systems, HRIS, and the intranet.

There may be specific systems or software solutions to manage projects within the organization.  Training on how to use these effectively is a better use of time than learning by trial and error. It will also improve productivity. Procedural guidelines or training manuals should accompany training as well.

Key stakeholders

Identify and introduce the clientele and key stakeholders to the new hire early on. They should become aware of how their roles intersect and what their unique expectations are. Managers should share the protocol for communicating with stakeholders and staff within and outside of the chain of command.

Performance management

New hires are excited to prove themselves to their manager and peers. Therefore, it’s essential to prepare a performance management plan in advance of the employee starting work. Also, introduce them to the organization’s performance management system.

Ideally, provide and discuss the plan with the employee within 30 days from their start date. The program should extend to the first 90 to 180 or 365 days. It depends on the complexity of the role and the organization. The plan will also specify the goals to be achieved, how they will be measured, when they are due, and who will be assessing them. Part of the performance management plan is also to develop a schedule for required and preferred trainings that will help equip the employee with knowledge and skills to best perform the assigned job duties.

Types of training methods

The method of training depends on organizational resources, the complexity of the role, and the different ways people learn. Therefore, different methods should be used to ensure that the information being conveyed is understood. The more complex the organization is and processes are, training and repetition become increasingly important. The different training methods that can be beneficial to new employees are:

  1. Instructor-led learning – in person, virtually, synchronous learning
  2. E-learning – self-paced, on-demand, drip learning or asynchronous learning
  3. On-the-job training – learning by doing
  4. Job shadowing – following someone as they perform the duties the new employee will assume
  5. Mentoring – assigned to someone who can groom them and provide advice about progressing in their field of interest to a particular role or level.

How to train new employees effectively?

Here’s your new hire training checklist.

  1. Start before your new hire’s first day – That doesn’t mean that you should require them to complete a training before they even start working for you. But they will appreciate if you let them know what they can expect and what L&D at your organization looks.
  2. Create an agenda – An agenda or a schedule should include a timeline, trainers (if there are any), training materials, goals, etc. It will give your new hires a good idea of what awaits them.
  3. Make the training targeted and relevant – Make sure that the initial training focuses on core competencies and tasks that the new employee will need in their job. A role-specific training will help new team members become productive faster and set them up for long-term success.
  4. Consult existing employees on training content – They will have unique insights on what new hires really need to know, when, and how it can be taught.
  5. Employ peer training – Your more experienced colleagues can help train their peers.
  6. Appoint mentors – These experienced people can help guide the employees through the training process and help them develop the necessary competencies.
  7. Create learning paths – Explain to employees how they build their skills over time.
  8. Combine different training methods – Like job shadowing, on-the-job learning, online courses, group training, and more. That way, you’re also catering to different learning styles.
  9. Focus on teambuilding – Making the new hire training a team activity will help you ensure that the new employees start feeling like they’re part of the team early on.
  10. Exchange feedback frequently – Your new employees want to know how they’re doing. Take your time to provide feedback on how their training is going. However, you’ll also want to know how they see the training.
  11. Focus on ongoing training – New employee training shouldn’t stop once you assume that the employee can now do the basics. You can continue with cross-training them or creating a leadership development plan if they are high-potential.
  12. Train on both individual and team level – Team level training will help the new employee understand how the team operates, its workflows, and how they fit within the team.
  13. Use learning technology – Learning Management Systems are beneficial for providing and tracking standardized training.
  14. Provide access to training resources – Ensure that the new employees can find training materials and continue learning independently.
  15. Monitor progress – And check whether the employees have the understanding of what you’re teaching them.

Last word to HR

Training your new employees effectively and in a structured way means building a productive, engaged workforce. Continue gathering their feedback to make your training even more impactful in the future. Don’t treat new hire training as an afterthought but rather as a core part of your onboarding process. That way, you’re ensuring that your new hires will be productive, engaged, and will stay with your organization.

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